Your body continues to adjust to the growing baby inside your belly while you are pregnant. This is most especially true with the ligaments that surround and support your womb or the uterus. One of these ligaments is called the round ligament. It connects the front part of the womb to the groin. This is the area where your legs append to the pelvis. This ligament usually constricts and expands or relaxes slowly. The round ligament stretches to accommodate the growing baby in your womb. This may cause the ligament to be strained, especially when the baby makes sudden movements in your belly. The round ligament may quickly tighten causing a painful jabbing feeling. This is one of the common complaints that pregnant women have during pregnancy, more specifically from the third trimester, onwards. Ease Round Ligament Pain With A Maternity Belt Having round ligament pain not only can be physically painful. It can also drag you down and make your day a bit difficult to go through at times. There are several ways to ease ligament pain. One of these is wearing a maternity belt or a belly band. Wearing a good quality maternity belt can help support your growing belly. It can also provide a temporary relief to the round ligament when worn adequately around the abdomen. Soothe Lower Back Pains With A Maternity Belt Another common pain that expecting mothers complain about is lower back pains. The pressure brought about by the growing baby in your abdomen causes your body to overextend and strain the muscles supporting your lower back. With a maternity band, you can support and lift the belly, however. This lessens the amount of pressure on your mid and lower back and relieves the pain that you may have. This can also help relieve fatigue, especially when you need to stand up for a long time. Look Good And Feel Good With A Maternity Belt When you wear a maternity band, it sends external cues to your body to correct its posture. Allowing the belly band to support the belly and the lower back will give you more time to focus on your posture. This will also lessen the fatigue and strains that you may feel when you are not standing or sitting properly. How To Wear A Maternity Belt Properly To ensure that your belly band can fully support your abdomen, allow it to rest comfortably on your undergarments. You also need to consider how to properly place your belly band to ensure that it will not restrict the baby in your belly nor will it make it difficult for you to breathe or do other things. Maternity belts come in different designs. They usually come with the support pad, straps (the belt straps and the upper tummy straps), as well as the fastening systems. Below is the proper way to use a belly belt with this design. The maternity belt, also known as Abdominal Support Pad (ASP), should be placed directly under your baby belly and just above your pelvic area. Wrap one end of the strap firmly (but not too tight) around your body until it meets the other end. Secure both ends with the hooks or loop fasteners or both. Make sure to position the ASP as low under your belly as possible but not so low that it will make it difficult for you to sit or walk. Place it slightly up where it will not touch your legs when lifted. Once the asp is already securely fastened under your tummy, attach the belt to the ASP. To do this, grip the support securely at both ends and stretch it forward to append to the ASP. Use the hook and loop fastening system to attach the belt to the ASP. Then, stretch the belt around your back to attach the other end of the belt to the hook and loop at the other end of the ASP. Locate the upper tummy strap and fasten it to the hook and loop closure on the opposite sides of the belt. When To Wear A Belly Band There is no strict rule when you need to wear a maternity belt. It really depends on how much support that your baby belly needs. As your pregnancy progresses, you may feel the need to wear your belly band more. If you wake up with a back and/or pelvic pains, you can try wearing your belly band while you are sleeping or taking a nap. Although you may feel a lot heavier and more pressure on your back area during the second trimester of your pregnancy, you can wear your pregnancy belt even during the first few weeks of your pregnancy to help strengthen your core muscles. Things To Consider Before Buying A Belly Band As always, you will need to consult your doctor if you feel anything unusual with the pains that you are experiencing. However, if you feel a common pregnancy-related back pain, you can use a belly belt to ease the pain. There are many brands and designs available in most maternity stores. You can also by these maternity belts online. They may also be available in different sizes, so make sure that you pick one that will expand as your baby grows inside your tummy. Noticing how gorgeous a pregnant mom can look even while wearing a belly band like theankitarai, you will just be happy you decided to have one yourself. She recounts how she hurt her L4, L5 during her previous pregnancy in 2015. Wearing a pregnancy support belt made it easier for her to manage all the weight she gained in her pregnancy.
Childhood is confusing. If we rational, mature grownups are stumped by parenting choices and styles, just imagine how confused kids feel. They are constantly stuck in between the sharp ends of non-sequiturs and conflicting messages; messages that they are just supposed to take at face value, even when face value makes no sense. Here are just a few examples of how we confuse our children by our well-meaning rules and lessons. “Stop being creative and start doing your work,” said a parent volunteer at school. Hmmm… isn’t creativity often the most productive and valuable part of “work?” Isn’t it at the heart of all the problem solving we expect our kids to do on their road independence? “You are fat,” said my son honestly to a man we met. Nothing wrong with telling the truth, right? Yes, there is. Always tell the truth, but A. don’t tell a fat person they are fat, and B. we will continue to lie to you on most holidays, until you realize that we have lied to you all your life about jolly old men and bunnies who lay eggs. “You need to clean your room and do your homework before dinner. Oh, now I guess you also need to clean up the milk you spilled on the floor. Oh, and the wall, too, since you missed the washing machine with the milky rag. But now, it is dinner time, so go wash your hands and sit down and use your manners.” Oh, my God. Who could do all this? We ask our kids to calm down and focus, but please do all the things we are asking of you. It would be enough to drive a person crazy. Oh, wait… kids are crazy. “You’re screen time is all done. Turn it off, please. No, I can’t turn off my screen because I am working and I have to do that. No, you don’t have to play Minecraft. It’s just different, that’s why.” Wall-E, here we come. Generally the pronouncement of “Holy crap,” or worse, by a child is met with some form of “That is not appropriate language. Please don’t use bad words.” But how does this line up with popular culture where bad words are everywhere from music to graffiti to forgetful grownups? “Why do women show their boobs all the time?” asked my son, referring to cleavage. We tell our kids that certain body parts are private, but billboards, magazines, and fashion reveal cleavage and butts all the time. Go figure. “It’s time for you to sit down and focus on your homework now,” says a mom (maybe me), who settles down with a glass of wine. “Yes, being curious and trying new things is something I encourage you to do, but hiding behind the door to experiment with a box cutter is not okay.” “Thank you for being a big helper around the house. However, it is not okay to use 50 gallons of water and an entire bottle of dish soap to wash your single breakfast plate. And, by the by, what do you think will be your best solution for un-flooding the kitchen?” “Yes, you are playing with it in private, but when I asked you to vacuum your room I meant vacuum the dirt from the floor, not tickle the skin on that one part of your body.” Imagine how your child sees the world they have to navigate. No wonder kids throw temper tantrums.
Dear Dad, I’ve never lived in this world without a dad before. I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet and I’m not sure I want to. All I want to do is call you to talk, but I don’t think they bother with phones or even language where you are. We’ve talked almost every day for the past couple years and the only way I can hear your voice now is to call your phone number to listen to the outgoing message. Yes, I’ve done that. I cannot find you’re your voice anywhere else. And oh, what a voice it was. “An authoritatively resounding baritone voice” is how your friend labeled it in your obituary (he did a really nice job – you would have liked it). It was indeed that. But to me it was just my father’s voice. The same voice that told me to hug my teddy bear tighter when I was sad and missed you. The same voice that told me “well, Dear, it looks like you’ve made something that resembles a mistake” when I got my son a cat because I wanted one, even though he is terribly allergic. The same voice that could not speak back when I said “I love you” for the very last time. That’s the voice I want to hear. My daddy’s voice. I suppose I will have to do all the talking now, though. It’s been a tough week, but we’re all going to be okay. We’re all going to do a good job taking care of each other, just like you would have wanted. If I’m going to be honest, I have to tell you that I checked out for a few days. I went to the desert with my family and friends and tried to pretend that I had nothing to think about other than how to get the sand out of my ears, sleeping bag and food, or what trails to ride. (You should see your grandson on a mountain bike. He’s really getting good.) But now I’m home and it’s harder to be in denial. My sadness comes in waves and I have no control over its power. Today, we found the first Pasque flower of the spring. It was so pretty and fuzzy that we just sat there petting it like a giant bumble bee that would not sting us. The newness of life and the gentle sweetness of my son made me think of you. And the waves came. And I let them. The humor of life also comes in waves, though. You taught me that and grandma taught you that. There’s always a good laugh to be had in there somewhere. Often the laughter was at you. You were always such a good sport at being heckled. So, in death, as in life, we will have to give you a hard time. Who else will we make fun of for being a technological Luddite (“CAN YOU HEAR ME? I’M TALKING ON A CELL PHONE.”)? Who else would use every word in the English language, strung together in James Joycian prose and sprinkled with historical facts to answer a simple question like “Where should we go to dinner tonight?” In between the tears and the laughter I’ll write to you again. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say I love you, wherever you may receive my letter. I hope the journey is beautiful and like nothing you could have ever imagined. Back on earth we miss you terribly. I love you. Shenna
Shy, dorky, pre-teen me was somehow able to befriend the most popular girl in our seventh-grade class. Fantastic! A new friend and a rocket launcher to popularity, right? No, not so much. In reality, my new BFF was a cunning sociopath who schooled me in the ways of deceit, manipulation, tweaked emotional control over another and just plain ol’ meanness. In a thank-god-I-never-have-to-do-that-again way, I remember this time of my life with disbelief, not only because of the terrible things my friend did to me, but also because of the ways I turned on her. I did things that are really not part of my DNA. I don’t have spite in my bones, but I was spiteful. Middle school is a confusing time for kids. Maturing so quickly, kids have little understanding of what is going on and very few tools to deal with the gaps between problems, emotions, desires and reality. So much of the angst from being woefully ill-equipped to take part in the more grown-up world kids spy ahead turns into things like bullying, manipulation, exclusion and depression. Luckily, mean girls in my middle school era were only equipped with land lines, analog writing devices and face-to-face bitchiness. Because of this, whatever happened between my friend and I could only radiate out so far beyond the two of us. Our tweaked dynamics could only amass a certain level of power, yet even then our bad blood so often felt like the end of the world. After two years, I was free of my crazy friend and learned a whole heck of a lot of lessons from our relationship, including how to stand in who I am and what I believe to hopefully avoid manipulation or being edged into doing things I know to be wrong. In hindsight, I’d like to thank my friend for pushing me into these lessons and more. I am better because of her schooling. But not every victim or perpetrator of nastiness is so lucky, especially today, in the digital age. If our messed up friendship had existed today, we would have a whole quiver of digital weapons through which to enact our drama and wield our malice. It scares me to think of what would have been different if we had access to powerful tools like Facebook with little or no supervision. But this is reality for a lot of kids, like Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide after falling prey to a firing squad of cyber bullying. Here story is so sad, yet it is only one story out of a million. Thankfully, things like this are getting media coverage and attention from schools, parents and law enforcement. Perhaps if I were a brilliant sociologist or psychologist I could delve into why and how all these things happen and what we, as a society, should do about it. But I am not. I am just a grown-up who was once a middle-schooler and will someday be parenting a middle schooler. So, here I will be, paying close attention, learning what I can and listening to my own lessons learned long ago.
Santa Clause is definitely under suspicion, but the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are hangin’ tough. Last year I saved the Easter Bunny by pointing to a regular bunny hopping across the yard after an Easter egg hunt and proclaiming “there he is!!” This year, the Tooth Fairy came into question, but I saved her, too. Here is a letter my son received from the Tooth Fairy after he left her a note asking if she was real and would she please tell him because he really wanted to know. Oh, how I will miss them when they depart his world. Dear Boy With The Missing Tooth, Kids always ask if I am real, but I never ask them if they are real. I know it is curious that I only come under cover of dark, but this is just because I am afraid of the sunlight. I also travel at night because then no one wants to capture me and put me in a cage. I like to be free. I also really like teeth. You may wonder why I collect them. If you saw my house you would know exactly why. I live in a big beautiful castle made out of cute little baby teeth from children like you all over the world. Without these teeth I could not have a house, so thank you for all the teeth you have given me. I built a window frame out of the eight teeth you lost. I mean seven, but now with this one I will have all the eight I need to finish the frame. It is for my favorite window. It looks out on to my garden of money trees. They grow like weeds in my world, but I hear that people in your world use money every day. That is so funny to me. I rake up the leaves from my money trees and give the dollars to kids like you. Children’s baby teeth are the most precious thing in my world, so thank you again for being so generous with them. I will think of you every time I look out of my favorite window. The trees are especially beautiful in the springtime. Please do me a favor and brush your teeth VERY well twice a day and stay away from candy. This way your baby teeth will be in good condition when I get them. Take care of yourself. Love, The Tooth Fairy The Tooth Fairy also gave me a gift that morning: the look on my son’s face when he read her letter. It was as if he alone had discovered the missing clue to one of life’s mysteries and held the knowledge to share if he wished. Maybe I can write a letter to my son and leave it under my pillow. Please, little boy with the missing tooth, don’t ever grow up. And if you do, please keep your sense of imagination, wonder and awe. It is the most beautiful thing I know.
Boys. They were some of my favorite friends when I was a little girl. Then, as I got older, I thought they were mean and smelly. Later, I changed my mind, had crushes on them and, ultimately, married the grown man version. Now, I’m a mother of a boy. Having never actually been a boy myself, I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to understanding the care and feeding of a little boy. I’ve relied on books, friends, observation, guesswork, and my son to teach me that being elbowed in the nose is actually a sign of affection, or that my romantic idea of baking gingerbread cookies together is really just a freeway to frustration, and maybe even some hollering. (If you didn’t know, flour is a very fun substance in its many forms and has endless enticing applications beyond baking). I’ve been a daughter, girlfriend, competitor, co-worker, boss, friend and wife, but it took mothering a son to really see the differences between males and females. As a tomboy with an even more tomboyish mom, I used to think boys and girls had different personality traits only because parents and society raised them in line with traditional gender roles. I promised myself not to fall into that trap when I became a mother. But now, with testosterone peeling paint off the walls of my house, I have to reconsider. Although I used to frown upon gross generalizations regarding gender roles, I now realize they can actually be helpful in understanding our children, especially when we are of the opposite gender. Here are a few things my son (and other people’s sons) taught me about boys. 1. I yam what I yam. Whether your son is into princesses or dragons, you really have no say in the matter. I was determined to raise our son in a gender-neutral way. Although he was drawn to vehicles and predators, I pushed cute bunnies, pink and purple flowers, hand-made androgynous dolls and anything else that might counterbalance his testosterone-fueled energy. I now realize that this was an uphill battle going nowhere. The real pursuit isn’t creating a sweet little boy, but seeing through the chaos, noise, boogers and motion of the boy to find and cherish the sweet spots. 2. Meet the toy line up. After countless hours of observation in playgrounds and play dates, I’ve decided that there must be an official handbook of obsessions to which most boys subscribe. It starts innocently enough with a ball: feel it, bite it, roll it, throw it, dunk it, but by no means let go of it. Then, boyish obsessions move on to other items in a very specific order according to developmental age: trucks, heavy machinery, airplanes, cars, dinosaurs, dragons, and then the fill-in-the-blank-item of said boy’s favorite sport. The doll I gave my son never made the cut. 3. Stay. Go. Stay. Go. Somewhere around 6 years old, boys figure out that they are different from the females in their life. Suddenly, mom is so yesterday, and daddy is a hero. Thus begins the push/pull of mommy, which can be very emotional and confusing for everyone. Push mom away because I want to be just like daddy and she’s nothing like him. Pull mom back because, she’s mom and I need her. Push mom away because I have needed her too much and I want to be independent. Pull mom back because independence is scary. And on and on it goes. My guess is that it never ends. (And then, somewhere in the teen years, both mom and dad become equally so yesterday, and friends are all that matters. At least we all get a turn.) 4. Active learning. Boys don’t learn by sitting still in a chair. Learning is best done while running between rooms, dancing, farting and singing. I’m amazed at the correct math answers that come hurling at me from around a corner, just when I thought our son had skipped out on homework to build a pillow fort. No wonder boys are the ones getting in trouble at school. Who can think with all that stillness? 5. Girls create. Boys destroy. While boy energy can seem destructive on the surface, deep down it’s just active learning. Boys tend to display their curiosity physically. When exploring a new object, the go-to methods are eating it, throwing it, pinching it, pouring it, smashing it or flinging one’s body off it. Quiet observation and compliance is generally not a top choice for most boys. For example, my son recently learned about gravity and housekeeping all from one simple experiment. I asked him to take a drinking glass to the kitchen. He chose to deliver the glass to the kitchen by rolling it down 20 carpeted stairs to the hard tile floor below. At least now he knows how far glass can travel with a little bit of force behind it. 6. Movement and space. Understanding where one’s body is in space by means of dare devil moves is often a favorite male pastime. Don’t get me wrong, I like to fling myself through space too, but it seems that boys skip a few beats of hesitation because fear and potential injury rank a little lower on their list of worries. One could also say that what constitutes a good idea is different for boys and girls. For example, I would never have thought to climb high up onto a narrow windowsill just so I could free fall face first onto the couch, narrowly avoiding sharp tables, lamps and hardwood floors, but this happens hundreds of times a week at our house. My motto is don’t ask too many questions. Just move aside and protect your eyes. 7. Girls talk. Boys make noise. Girls have a lot to say and are generous with details. Boys have a lot of noise to make, but might not actually say anything at all, other than that they are here in your presence. How could you possibly forget with all that racket? Listen. They are saying something. You just need to translate from the physical to the verbal. (When you figure it out, give me a call because I am still trying to understand why my son thinks that if he is quiet he might be dead.) 8. Praise alone won’t work. I once read that girls tend to do better in school than boys because they are more eager to please others (teachers, parents, etc.), and boys do well in school when they have something internal motivating them. No amount of praise, coercion or peer pressure can motivate my son to do anything. Motivation has to come from his own internal desire and interest, or forget it. Yes, this is irritating, but it’s also admirably genuine. 9. What happens if I don’t? Boys want to know who’s in charge, what are the rules, and what are the consequences for breaking said rules. To them, life is a giant experiment. Every lever needs to be flipped, every button pushed and every flap opened. Of course all kids want to test boundaries, but girls seem to work in relationship with others and enjoy praise, while boys are more drawn to the experiment of finding hard and fast boundaries. When I was trying to get my son to lift the toilet seat before peeing, I tried everything before stooping to bribery with jelly beans. Put the seat up, pee, get a jelly bean. Simple, right? Nope. Purposely leave really big puddles of pee on the seat and then sweetly say you lifted the seat and ask for your reward. When you get busted and receive no jelly bean, try again tomorrow. This time, leave bigger puddles of pee on the seat (heck, the floor too, while you’re at it) before trying to claim your reward. Note failure and lack of jelly beans and start lifting the lid every time without fail and without jelly beans. Months later, note stale jelly beans in the cupboard but don’t ask for one. 10. Boys do cry. The whole idea that boys don’t cry is hogwash. Boys are just as emotional as girls, even if their style of emotional expression is different. Boys often express themselves physically, which can be misunderstood as tough or unemotional. Don’t believe it. Instead, use your super mother powers of translating the physical to the emotional. And then give them a big hug that lasts a really long time.
Yesterday held some odd convergence of time for me. While I was enjoying every spectacular moment of the present day, the past sidled up next to me. I became the middle of the Oreo cookie, with today on one side and years of history on the other. Seventeen years ago, at this time of year, I was dizzied by the tectonic shifts I was making in my life. I left people I loved, a job I loved and a city I called home to move to the far end of a dead-end dirt road in the rural mountains of Colorado. What I hadn’t realized then was that I was moving into a rare, tight-knit community of amazing people all enjoying a small corner of paradise together. In the time I have been here, people have gotten married and divorced. Babies (lots of them) have been born and grown taller than their parents. People have moved in, moved away, been moved to change, or departed the planet entirely. Businesses have shuttered and new ones built. Jobs have changed. Fences have been built up by neighbors and torn down by herds of elk and blustery winters. Houses have burnt down, been built anew and aged with grace. And through it all we have played, worked, loved, and mourned together. Every day I am keenly aware of what an uncommon and exceptional community I am lucky enough to be part of, but yesterday each movement exclaimed to me really and truly what a strong “neighborhood” of people we are. And, in a way, how irrelevant past and present are in contrast to the convergence of it all. I did absolutely nothing out of the ordinary yesterday — just the same things I have been doing since I moved here, but each of them with a twist unique to the day and its place in time. I skied the same powdery, shimmery snow I have for years, but this time I got to do it with my son, me following the tree lines he plotted from the lift. The same bright, friendly smile of the woman who sold me a slice of her homemade pie my first night here 17 years ago shone on my son when she set him up with a hot chocolate after a cold morning on the ski hill. The same end-of-day shadows moved across our house in the same slow February light, even though the house and the number of creatures in it are different than 17 years ago. The same friends who came over for dinner last night were the same friends who came over 17 years ago, except this time they have kids old enough to drive and babysit and give us their perspective on things with which adults grapple. In the scheme of things these are all minute details that are easily missed, but to me they are strong reminders of how, even amidst seemingly tectonic shifts, so much of life stays the same. Some changes we want to hold on to and savor forever. Others feel like they will crash on our heads and drown us. But in the end, all change swirls around together in the sea of life, leaving us just as we were save for the new experience we get to put in our pockets as a reminder of the moment.
When I was six I befriended a homeless man. I met him on a park bench next to my house and thought he was the greatest person ever. I visited him often and tried to convince my father to let me take things to the man on the bench. Food, money, house plants, it didn’t matter; I just wanted to give. Now, you may be thinking Who lets their daughter be friends with a bum? I trust my father had good reasons, namely that it was a different day and kids had a lot more freedom to explore their world. Plus, as he tells me now, I always showed a keen interest in the homeless and the ultra-wealthy. Bums and limos were kinda my thing, I guess. As long as I was safe, who was he to corral me into a hermetic environment? My friend the homeless man was kind and patient. He let me prattle on about whatever spilled out of my mouth. In response to the many questions I asked him, he provided simple answers. Unfortunately for both of us, each answer only fed my curiosity more. In my little mind, I couldn’t figure out what it meant to not have a home, or how you could fit all your belongings in one small bag, or where you went to the bathroom, or where you slept, or how you ate, or who tucked you in at night, or when your home would come back to you. I even remember wondering if he ever left the bench. After sitting there all day, did he just lie down at night and then sit up in the morning? Where were all the people who loved him, I wondered? One day I finally asked him why he didn’t have a home and he rocked my world by telling me that at one point he had a house and a job and a family, but his house burned down and his family died. I really couldn’t wrap my head around that at all. When I told my father, he said “Yah, likely story.” But to this day I still believe the man and think about him often. I wish he were around today so I could ask him all the questions I never asked. I want to know what became of him. While there is one part of me that wonders why I was allowed to be friends with a bum, there is another, bigger part of me that is so thankful for all the freedom I had as a kid. Maybe I had an angel looking over me, or maybe the world was different then, but I came out unscathed after soaking up all the experiences and adventures that come along with independence. Well, not entirely. There were plenty of skinned knees from falling off my bike. But there were more treasures than skids, like when I pedaled three two-for-one coupons to three different Dairy Queens around town so I could eat a total of six ice creams in one afternoon. Or when I walked my friend home from school every day and fell down in puddles of laughter at each step. My own son is not interested in the kind of independence I had, nor am I interested in him having it. However, I do find myself encouraging him to do things he doesn’t want to do, like walk to his friend’s house alone or use the men’s bathroom at the grocery store. Maybe he is just smarter than me. Mountain lions live around here and he knows they could snag him. Creeps hang out in public bathrooms and he knows he could be prey. We aren’t overly cautious parents, but we talk to our son about things that weren’t discussed when I was a kid. In my day, people didn’t talk to kids about safe grownups or being the boss of one’s own body. I was taught to be strong, intuitive and independent, but I was pretty clueless to the fact that grownups could be bad to kids. I knew what a kidnapper was, but I envisioned such a person looking like a kidnapper. Perhaps I thought kidnappers would wear a sign identifying them as such. Now that I am a parent, I find myself struggling to find the balance between encouraging independence and self-sufficiency, and protecting and teaching. I want to be protective and extra safe, but what does my son lose in the process? He certainly won’t be friends with a homeless man anytime soon. At the same time, I would have missed out on a great gift had I not known the man on the bench. Linked to the parental drive to protect is prejudice. My father was leery about the man on the bench being anything more than a crazy person, but he never told me that. He kept an eye on things, but he never laid down a judgment or spoke badly of the man. If he had, what would it have done to my view of the world – to my acceptance of people who are different from me? I’m pretty sure my son will grow up being prejudice of people who smoke cigarettes or don’t wear helmets, but in my effort to protect him what other unintentional judgments do I impart on him?
Perhaps it’s just me and the books and articles I’ve been reading or my current role in our family, but it seems that questions of feminism are everywhere. The gist of what I keep hearing is this. First, women were oppressed by the trapping mentality that their roles as dutiful wives and perfect homemakers were equivalent to being righteous and acceptable women. If they worked or rocked the boat in some way, they were judged. Then, women found liberation and subsequently careers, activism, divorce, sexual freedom and self-actualization. Because of this, the notion and shape of families changed. Today, we are questioning what feminism means because women are in a double bind. Some say the idea that mothers can do it all (career, family, self- actualization) is in and of itself just a new type of trap for women. Working mothers everywhere are feeling worn thin by the demands of their hectic lives and feelings of guilt or inadequacy. After all, who the hell can simultaneously charge ahead in their rewarding career, be a perfectly involved mother, run a Martha-Stewart-like home, appear beautiful and fit, and still have time to please everyone else in their lives? No one can, but the construct – the unrealistic ideal held above women’s heads – still remains. The alternative, of course, is to go back to the 1950s and become a housewife. Well, not exactly, because a modern housewife is called a “stay-at-home mother” and she does things very differently than June Cleaver. Maybe this mother held on to a modicum of her former career through freelance work, or her activities through yoga and running. Unlike Betty Crocker, she is not looking for short cuts like cake in a box or TV dinners, but feeling ridiculous pressure to make her children everything fresh and by hand. All the while, an oh-you-don’t-work attitude slides down people’s noses onto her Lilliputian self-esteem. I once was a woman determined to never marry or have children because that would be like falling for a trap society set for me. I was going to be dependent on no one, fulfilled only by my career, friends, favorite pastimes and boyfriends, if I happened to be in the mood. I never labeled myself feminist; I just followed my strong, independent female role models. As it turned out, I chose a totally different path. I chose to marry, because I met a man who I wanted to spend my life with, not because that was what I was supposed to do. I chose to become a mother because I felt it would make me a whole person, and it was an experience I did not want to miss. I chose to be a stay at-home mother because I was raised by a hard-working single mother who had no time for frivolities, and I wanted to be the homemaking mother I dreamed of as a child: the mom in the 1970s Kool-Aid commercials. If you stir together the ideals of society, images of perfect mothers seen in the media, the judgment mothers heap upon other mothers, expectations we have of ourselves and then mix in a load of boiling reality, you get a coagulated mess. It can’t work. The only thing that can work to open this trap of judgment we set for ourselves is to believe in loving mothers — mothers who are doing the hard job, whether they straddle the worlds of career and family, or root themselves in the home. Isn’t women choosing their own life path the thing for which feminists fought so hard?
Before I became a mother, there were lots of things mothers were supposed to do and not do. Being a non-parent, of course I knew everything about how parenting was done. I had a long idealistic list of I-will-always-do-this and an even longer, more self-righteous list of I-will-never-do-that. Case closed. I can go home now knowing that I have set the world straight. But then I became a mom and the lists were either dissolved with spit up or digested by my baby because I was never able to find them again. You know, just for reference. Now I slink back into the reaches of my memory, like a dog who’s been caught eating the trash, and try to recreate the items on these terrible lists. My child will never watch TV or videos. Instead, we will read or do crafts. Ha! That was before I was with my child 24/7 and a 10-minute break became a life saver. Better a video viewing than a mommy who loses her shit, right? I will never stoop to all that kid food crap, like boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs. What was I thinking? That I should just starve my child? For a story about me trying to feed by 9-month old liver, click here. My child will be kind and respectful because that is how he will be treated. Obviously, I had not factored in my short patience or our family’s bodily functions. Or that kids are just kids and part of figuring out how to be good is being rotten some of the time, or even a lot of the time. I will allow my child to learn from exploration. I won’t be so uptight as to cut them off from the delights of the world. While I have done this in large part, a girl can only take so much. I have had to draw the line and say things I never imagined humans could say to one another, like “Please take your finger out of your butt and go wash your hands,” or “It is not okay to rub your body against mommy’s leg like that.” If I have a boy, I will send a good man out into the world. Although I still wish for this with all my might (and think we will succeed), I realize now that I really don’t have control over the situation. I can do my best to teach him, but in the end I do not make this person who I call my child. He came into the world the person he is, and I am just here to feed him hot dogs and tell him not to hump my leg. The lists were so much longer, but in the process of basking in the sunshine of being mommy and digging out through the volcanic ash of motherhood, I seem to have forgotten all the points. Thank God. Now I can just get on with the task at hand; loving the being I am here to love.